Kids’ Health Insurance, Health IT On Tap for Funds in Stimulus
Congressional Democrats might include in an economic stimulus package a reauthorization of SCHIP, which will expire on March 31, 2009, and additional funds for health care information technology, CQ HealthBeat reports.
On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, "Nothing has been decided, but our first focus will be with the stimulus package and part of that would be SCHIP."
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Wednesday said that he supports the addition of a short-term reauthorization of SCHIP in the stimulus package and that he likely will seek to include a long-term reauthorization in broader health care reform legislation he plans to introduce early next year (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 12/10).
In addition, aides for Baucus and Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have worked with aides for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on health care IT language for the stimulus package (Noyes, CongressDaily, 12/10).
Baucus said that the stimulus package likely will include less than $50 billion for health care IT (CQ HealthBeat, 12/10).
A spokesperson for Enzi said that health care IT language likely will appear in the stimulus package or broader health care reform legislation (CongressDaily, 12/10).
Baucus said that the addition of an SCHIP reauthorization to the stimulus package also would allow Congress more time to work on broader health care reform legislation and that the addition of funds of health care IT would reduce the cost of the broader bill.
He added, "There are going to be certain costs of health care reform -- upfront costs," adding, "If I can put some of those upfront costs in the so-called stimulus bill, I'd rather put them there" (Young, The Hill, 12/10).
According to CQ HealthBeat, the addition of an SCHIP reauthorization to the economic stimulus package also could help "bring bipartisan support for the proposal" and "assure Democrats a legislative health care victory if they are unable to pass any broader health care overhaul measures."
However, the addition of an SCHIP reauthorization to the stimulus package could "draw the ire of fiscal conservatives in both parties who do not want the legislation loaded up with items not critical to improving" the U.S. economy, CQ HealthBeat reports.A House Democratic aide said that the addition of an SCHIP reauthorization to the stimulus package "would be a hard sell" (CQ HealthBeat, 12/10). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.